New Believer? Step 3: Read your Bible. Here's how!

As a new believer, understand that the Bible is God's primary means to communicate with you.

God speaks through His Word to communicate His truth and grace to us, to draw us into fellowship with Him, and to impact how we live and love.

So one of the best things a believer can do is read the Bible and meet with God in it.

The trouble is many Christians rarely actually read the Bible or experience relational joy because they don't understand it. You may have tried to read it multiple times but didn't get anything from it.

But the Bible is God's Word to us. It is true. It is powerful. It is also understandable. And the better you can understand it, the more exciting the Bible becomes.

I want to introduce you to a simple study method called the inductive method.

This method follows three simple steps.

1) Observation. Read God's Word and catch what's happening. Be curious. Invite God, "Lord, show me what you want me to see."

In observation is super important to observe the context. Who are the characters? What's going on? Who's speaking to whom? 

it's fun to keep an eye on the emotions expressed, especially as people interact with Jesus. Who's angry, why? Who's rejoicing and why? What's going on?

Pick up on what is emphasized. Two heads up, 1) italics in your bible do not show emphasis, rather they imply the opposite. Italicized words were not in the original manuscripts yet were later added to provide more clarity. 2) If a sentence is in all caps, this means it is a quote from the Old Testament.

So how does the bible show emphasis? It shows emphasis through repeated words. So, keep an eye out for repeated words, like when Jesus says, "Truly, truly I say to you" or when He calls the Pharisees hypocrites seven times in Matthew 23.

Once you pay attention to the details of the passage you can take the next step, interpretation.

2) Interpretation. In this step ask, "Lord, what do you want me to know and trust or do in this passage?

Interpretation seeks answers to questions like, "What did God mean?" "What did God intend the original audience to understand, believe, do?"

When we get these answers, we then ask, "What does God want me to understand, to know and trust from this passage?" "What does this mean for me today?" That's interpretation."

So again, personally turn to God and by faith in His presence, read; never study the Bible alone.

Bring what you observed about the context into your interpretation. What did God mean to say to Abraham or Moses or Paul or the church in Ephesus?

Is this in the Old Testament or New? Is this to Israel or the church? Believers or unbelievers?

Realize the Old Testament after Genesis 11 has to do with Israel first. The New Testament is spoken primarily to the church--to us today. God had a different covenant or way of relating with Israel than with the church. What He commands them is for them. Yet what He reveals of Himself is for all of us.

What is the context of the book, the chapter? Get a good study bible or commentary for details.

Here are a few axioms for interpretation:

      a) The meaning of any verse is the meaning the author intended when he wrote it

      b) Since the bible never contradicts itself, no passage will ever contradict clear passages

      c) Don't look for the obscure; seek the plain, natural, intended meaning of the text

      d) Progressive revelation. In the New Testament, God reveals truths not previously revealed in the Old Testament

      e) The church is separate from Israel but does not replace Israel

After we understand what God meant when He said it, we can now begin to apply to to our lives.

3) Application. Invite God to lead you, "Lord, what do You want me to do based on the truth that I now trust?"

Application seeks the answer the question, "How should I live?"

It's not enough to observe the text or even to accurately understand it. The goal of personal Bible study is to love the Lord live a Christ shaped life.

Jesus speaks of the wisdom of hearing God's Word and doing it.

Matthew 7:24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock."  

But doing what God says is not only wise, it is life transforming. When you read the Bible you get to know about God, awesome. Yet when you obey what He says, you get to know God.

John 8:30 As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him. 31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

When, by faith, you obey God's Word, you not only know but you personally experience His Presence and power in your life. And you begin to experience the freedom Jesus offers.

So this is a key step in Bible study. It's also how we truly know God. How we thrive.

What does God want you to do based on what you now trust? How does it look to obey what God at school? On a Friday night? Or on the job? Or in your marriage? The answer to that is shown in your own life as you trust God and step out in faith with Him.

Understand also, this is a process. You don't do this over night. But start with God and your the Bible. Observation. Interpretation. Knowing what God says. Trusting the God who says it. Then application: allowing the truth to transform your beliefs, your heart, and the way you live.